Asian Conversations


  • Asian Conversations offers you a dynamic cultural exploration that begins with two semesters of Chinese or Japanese language study during your first year on campus. During sophomore year you continue your language study while taking three linked courses organized around the theme of “Journeys Through Asia.”  Readings include historic and contemporary narratives from Asian travelers, pilgrims, migrants, great writers, and political leaders. You explore connections across Asia from diverse perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, complemented with language skills in Chinese or Japanese.
  • In January you’ll travel to China and Japan for an experiential interim through ethnographic observations while practicing your language skills. The entire group travels together to China for the first week, and ends with a final week together in Japan. In-between you’ll stay in the country of your language study for two more weeks, each taught by one of the professors. Interim serves as a bridge between grounding in traditional culture that was introduced in the fall, and the reworking of tradition during the modern era, which we’ll cover in the spring.
  • Two professors lead each of the three sequenced courses taught in English: AS210, 215, and 220. All courses challenge you to think across traditional disciplines from history to literature to the social sciences, across national borders and languages, and across time. In the fall and spring we alternate class sessions: sometimes all students and both professors are in the room, sometimes we have smaller conversations led by one professor at a time.


You apply for Asian Conversations in the spring of your first year at St. Olaf.  You should sign up for Chinese or Japanese language during your first and second semesters. If you took either language during high school, you can take a placement exam first.  During your sophomore year you continue with language study while taking the three Asian Conversations courses. When you complete the sequence you will earn six General Education credits:  ALS-A, ALS-L, HBS, MCG, ORC, and WRI.

See course descriptions  and schedule and download the application.
Application for 2016-17 is due: Monday, March 14, by 5:00 p.m. in Tomson 368.

Learn more from Asian Conversations Director Bob Entenmann:, (507)-786-3427.